COLUMBUS - It seemed like it would never come, but spring officially begins on Friday, March 20. After a particularly harsh winter, the Ohio Department of Aging and the STEADY U Ohio initiative urge all older Ohioans to increase their activity this spring to build strength and balance and reduce their risk of falling. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among Ohioans age 60 and older. However, falls are not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented.
"By knowing the risk factors and maintaining the highest level of health and wellness possible, you or a loved one can significantly reduce the chances of a life-altering fall," said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates STEADY U Ohio.
Staying active and healthy all year long helps maintain strength and balance and greatly reduces your chances of falling. The "A Matter of Balance" program is a key component of the STEADY U Ohio initiative that can help older adults develop strategies and positive habits to prevent falls. Through community-based workshops, participants learn to manage their falls risk and increase their activity levels without the fear of falling. To learn more and find a workshop near you, visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
Other things you can do this spring to take control of your falls risk:
- Get at least 15 minutes of simple exercise, like walking, biking, swimming or gardening, each day.
- Attend a balance and exercise program designed to help build balance, strength and flexibility.
- Ask your health care provider for an assessment of your risk of falling.
- Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Get your vision and hearing checked, and talk to your vision and hearing specialists about falls.
- Eat regularly and choose a variety of vegetables and calcium-rich foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Common risk factors for older adult falls include loose rugs, obstacles in walkways, poor lighting, balance issues, pets, medications and certain health conditions.
In addition, spring weather brings some unique falls risks:
- Winter thaw and spring storms can create mud, which can make walking surfaces hazardous. Avoid walking in mud and keep shoes clean of mud and dirt.
- Wind and rain can cause debris to cover or block walkways. Be alert to obstacles in your path, and if you don't feel safe, find another way.
- Standing flood water can hide obstacles and make you slip or trip, and moving water can knock you off your feet. Never walk in flood waters.
- Severe weather can cause power outages. Keep a flashlight nearby (e.g., near your chair and bed) so you don't have to walk in the dark.
For more tips and resources, visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov, and follow STEADY U Ohio on Facebook and Twitter.
About STEADY U Ohio - Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
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